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Massachusetts State History

Massachusetts is only the seventh largest state in the United States but lots of things happened here!

It is the home of baseball and volleyball and the world-famous university, Harvard.

Seal Of Massachusetts

Massachusetts is 10,555 square miles and 26% of this is water! It borders the states of New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

It is the most populous state in New England with a population of 6,892.

Related: Massachusetts State Facts

It is home to some very important ports as it is bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean.

Massachusetts In United States

Massachusetts is nicknamed “The Bay State”. This is because there are many important bays, such as Massachusetts Bay, Cape Cod Bay and Buzzards Bay.


Massachusetts has had inhabitants for over 10,000 years.

Before the Europeans arrived, the area now called Massachusetts was inhabited by various Native American tribes belonging to the Algonquin language family, such as the Wampanoag, Narragansetts, Nipmucs, Pocomtucs, Mahicans and the Massachusetts.

Sadly, in 1617-19, disease wiped out 90% of the Native American population.

Wôpanâak Nation

Many famous explorers went along the bay in the 1700s, such as Bartholomew Gosnold, who gave the name to Cape Cod in 1602.

Bartholomew Gosnold

The first wave of immigrants to Massachusetts were Puritans in the seventeenth century who were on the Mayflower.

They established the first settlement at Plymouth Colony. This was only the second colony to be established in what was to later become the United States.

At this time, New England was made up of lots of private colonies.

Plymouth Colony Map

The British eventually combined all of these private colonies under the authority of the crown. In 1686, the whole of New England was combined into the Dominion of New England, under the rule of James II.

In 1691, William III established the Provinceof Massachusetts Bay, which governed over what is now Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Maine, Nova Scotia and the islands of Cape Cod.

In the years that followed, Massachusetts was subject to many raids and wars, especially as part of King Philips War in 1670.

Early American Conflict

The Cradle of Liberty

Massachusetts also became known as a centre for rebellion in the American Revolutionary War in the 1760s-1770s.

In 1775, there were many battle scenes of the American Revolutionary War in Massachusetts. This is where the government in London were trying to keep control of Massachusetts and shut down self-rule.

Massachusetts became known for its rebels and as a centre of independence from Britain. It got nicknamed the “Cradle of Liberty.”

Faneuil Hall


There were lots of famous inventions and people from Massachusetts. In 1891, Dr. James Naismith invented baseball.

In 1895, William G.Morgan invented volleyball. These sports are now played around the world, not just in the United States.

Massachusetts was also the first state to use paper money. This caused hyperinflation (where a country prints too much money and it has less value than before).

In the eighteenth-century, newspapers began to be printed and widely circulated and Massachusetts was home to some of the first popular newspapers.

Naismith Statue Almonte
Naismith Statue Almonte

A teenage Benjamin Franklin worked on one of the first newspapers, the New England Courant.

Massachusetts is also very famous for its education. Aside from the world famous university, Harvard, it was also home to the first women’s college in what was to become the United States.

Mary Lyon opened Mount Holyoke College in 1836. Ten years previously, in 1826, Massachusetts was saw the first commercial railway get built.

This was called the Granite Railway.

Granite Railway

The president of the United States between 1961-3, John F. Kennedy, was from Massachusetts.

He was also a US senator between 1953 and 1960.

John F Kennedy

Quiz Time!

quiz activity for kids


How big is Massachusetts?

Which two sports were invented in Massachusetts?

Who opened the first women’s college?

What was the first railway called?

Which famous U.S. president is from Massachusetts?

US State History

Flag Of Massachusetts
Flag Of Massachusetts